Meditations on Singing a New Song

Nature is the one song of praise that never stops singing. — Richard Rohr
 
A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song. — Joan Walsh Anglund

Bless the poets, the workers for justice, the dancers of ceremony, the singers of heartache, the visionaries, all makers and carriers of fresh meaning—We will all make it through, despite politics and wars, despite failures and misunderstandings. There is only love.― Joy Harjo
 
Let people catch something from your heart that will cause no discomfort, but help them to sing. — Rumi

“Ah, music,” he said, wiping his eyes. “A magic beyond all we do here!” ― J.K. Rowling

Music can change the world because it can change people.― Bono

SONGS about SINGING & MAKING MUSIC:

I WILL SING a NEW SONG Howard Thurman

The old song of my spirit has wearied itself out.
It has long ago been learned by my heart;
It repeats itself over and over,
bringing no added joy to my days or lift to my spirit.

I will sing a new song.

I must learn the new song for the new needs.
I must fashion new words born of all the new growth
of my life – of my mind – of my spirit.
I must prepare for new melodies that have never been mine before,
that all that is within me may lift my voice unto God.
Therefore, I shall rejoice with each new day
and delight my spirit in each fresh unfolding.
I will sing, this day, a new song unto the Lord.

Singing in the midst of evil is what it means to be disciples. … we, like Mary, are bearers of resurrection, we are made new. … To sing to God amidst sorrow is to defiantly proclaim, like Mary Magdalene did to the apostles, …that death is not the final word. To defiantly say, once again, that a light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot, will not, shall not overcome it. And so, evil be damned, because even as we go to the grave, we still make our song alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia — Nadia Bolz-Weber

LET IT BE — Paul McCartney

When I find myself in times of trouble, mother Mary comes to me,
speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
And in my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me,
speaking words of wisdom, let it be.

Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be.
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.

And when the broken hearted people living in the world agree,
there will be an answer, let it be.
For though they may be parted there is still a chance that they will see,
there will be an answer. let it be.

Let it be, let it be …

And when the night is cloudy, there is still a light, that shines on me,
shine until tomorrow, let it be.
I wake up to the sound of music, mother Mary comes to me,
speaking words of wisdom, let it be.

Let it be, let it be …

Meditations on MUSIC & SONG

I have the opportunity, once more to right some wrongs, to pray for peace, to plant some trees, and sing more joyful songs. — William Arthur Ward

Because Music is a language that lives in the spiritual realms, we can hear it, we can notate it and create it, but we cannot hold it in our hands. ― Joy Harjo
 
We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives. — Toni Morrison

Who hears music, feels his solitude Peopled at once. ― Robert Browning
 
I like beautiful melodies telling me terrible things. ― Tom Waits

Music has always been a matter of Energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel. I have always needed Fuel. I am a serious consumer. On some nights I still believe that a car with the gas needle on empty can run about fifty more miles if you have the right music very loud on the radio. ― Hunter S. Thompson

Adversity in life does not rob your heart of beauty. It simply teaches it a new song to sing. — Karen White

Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without. ― Confucius
 
And could love free me from the shadows? Can a caged bird sing only the song it knows or can it learn a new song? —Angela Carter
 
It’s a new day, it’s a new season, it’s time to sing a new song and it’s time to put on the dancing shoes. – — Euginia Herlihy
 
Music is the great uniter. An incredible force. Something that people who differ on everything and anything else can have in common. ― Sarah Dessen

The poets of each generation seldom sing a new song. They turn to themes men always have loved, and sing them in the mode of their times.—Clarence Day

Music, once admitted to the soul, becomes a sort of spirit, and never dies. ― Edward Bulwer Lytton
 
Sing me a new song; the world is transfigured; all the Heavens are rejoicing.— Friedrich Nietzsche
 
The heart is sometimes tainted with the songs of yesterday. Sing a new song today.— Steven Aitchison
 
It’s nice to play new songs, but it’s nerve-wracking. — Samuel Ervin Beam

It was the moment I realized what music can do to people, how it can make you hurt and feel so good all at once. ― Nina LaCour

Music acts like a magic key, to which the most tightly closed heart opens. ― Maria von Trapp

Beethoven tells you what it’s like to be Beethoven and Mozart tells you what it’s like to be human. Bach tells you what it’s like to be the universe. ― Douglas Adams
 
I’m self-deprecating, but I’m an artist, too. I have to write new songs to chronicle stuff for myself. I write a song like ‘Middle Age’ or ‘Responsibility’ or ‘I Just Work Here,’ and it’s about how bleak life can be. But it’s real. — Steve Forbert

When I hear music, I fear no danger. I am invulnerable. I see no foe. I am related to the earliest times, and to the latest. — Henry David Thoreau

Life seems to go on without effort when I am filled with music. ― George Eliot
 

I have no reason to sit home and write songs all day without going out and playing for the folks. And I have no reason to go play for the folks unless I’m writing new songs so they can sort of feed off one another. And I just try to do the best I can. — Guy Clark
 
Where words leave off, music begins.― Heinrich Heine

My heart, which is so full to overflowing, has often been solaced and refreshed by music when sick and weary. ― Martin Luther

He took his pain and turned it into something beautiful. Into something that people connect to. And that’s what good music does. It speaks to you. It changes you. ― Hannah Harrington

Where words fail, music speaks. ― Hans Christian Andersen

I do feel most at home playing live, but the feeling of getting into the studio to see the new songs take shape was really incredible. — Jason Mraz

Music is the universal language of mankind. ― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

HISTORY of MUSIC — wikipedia.org, article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_music

Although definitions of music vary wildly throughout the world, every known culture partakes in it, and music is thus considered a cultural universal. The origins of music remain highly contentious; commentators often relate it to the origin of language, with much disagreement surrounding whether music arose before, after or simultaneously with language. Many theories have been proposed by scholars from a wide range of disciplines, though none have achieved wide approval. Most cultures have their own mythical origins concerning the invention of music, generally rooted in their respective mythological, religious or philosophical beliefs.

The music of prehistoric cultures is first firmly dated to c. 40,000 BP of the Upper Paleolithic by evidence of bone flutes, though it remains unclear whether or not the actual origins lie in the earlier Middle Paleolithic period (300,000 to 50,000 BP). There is little known about prehistoric music, with traces mainly limited to some simple flutes and percussion instruments. However, such evidence indicates that music existed to some extent in prehistoric societies such as the Xia dynasty and the Indus Valley civilisation. Upon the development of writing, the music of literate civilizations—ancient music—was present in the major Chinese, Egyptian, Greek, Indian, Persian, Mesopotamian, and Middle Eastern societies. It is difficult to make many generalizations about ancient music as a whole, but from what is known it was often characterized by monophony and improvisation. In ancient song forms, the texts were closely aligned with music, and though the oldest extant musical notation survives from this period, many texts survive without their accompanying music, such as the Rigveda and the Shijing Classic of Poetry. The eventual emergence of the Silk Road and increasing contact between cultures led to the transmission and exchange of musical ideas, practices, and instruments. Such interaction led to the Tang dynasty‘s music being heavily influenced by Central Asian traditions, while the Tang dynasty’s music, the Japanese gagaku and Korean court music each influenced each other.

Historically, religions have often been catalysts for music. The Vedas of Hinduism immensely influenced Indian classical music, while the Five Classics of Confucianism laid the basis for subsequent Chinese music. Following the rapid spread of Islam in the 6th century, Islamic music dominated Persia and the Arab world, and the Islamic Golden Age saw the presence of numerous important music theorists. Music written for and by the early Christian Church properly inaugurates the Western classical music tradition,[1] which continues into medieval music where polyphony, staff notation and nascent forms of many modern instruments developed. In addition to religion or the lack thereof, a society’s music is influenced by all other aspects of its culture, including social and economic organization and experience, climate, and access to technology. Many cultures have coupled music with other art forms, such as the Chinese four arts and the medieval quadrivium. The emotions and ideas that music expresses, the situations in which music is played and listened to, and the attitudes toward musicians and composers all vary between regions and periods. Many cultures have or continue to distinguish between art music (or ‘classical music’), folk music, and popular music.

CAGED BIRD —  Maya Angelou

A free bird leaps

on the back of the wind   

and floats downstream   

till the current ends

and dips his wing

in the orange sun rays

and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks

down his narrow cage

can seldom see through

his bars of rage

his wings are clipped and   

his feet are tied

so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings   

with a fearful trill   

of things unknown   

but longed for still   

and his tune is heard   

on the distant hill   

for the caged bird   

sings of freedom.

The free bird thinks of another breeze

and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees

and the fat worms waiting on a dawn bright lawn

and he names the sky his own.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams   

his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream   

his wings are clipped and his feet are tied   

so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings   

with a fearful trill   

of things unknown   

but longed for still   

and his tune is heard   

on the distant hill   

for the caged bird   

sings of freedom.

FAITH-BASED COMMENTARY

There are many ways to the Divine. I have chosen the ways of song, dance, and laughter. — Rumi

… Thank you for the reminder that theology may divide but hymns always unite. — Randy Biery

Let us sing a new song, not with our lips, but with our lives. -— Saint Augustine
 
God is always working to make His children aware of a dream that remains alive beneath the rubble of every shattered dream, a new dream that when realized will release a new song, sung with tears, till God wipes them away and we sing with nothing but joy in our hearts. — Larry Crabb
 
      … Many of us may or may not intellectually assent to the same doctrinal and theological propositions we were taught, but the music that we made from our bodies, the vibrations of song created and shared in communal expression is still ours. And I believe that the sentiment these hymns can evoke from within us …that that is also faith. (These days, my idea of what constitutes “faith” keeps expanding!)
Sometimes hymns are my creeds, my first language, the texts of my faith which have formed me from even before I was born. If I grow to be an old woman whose mind softens at the edges of reality, I may not know my own name or the names of my children and grandchildren, but I am certain I will still know every single word to Great Is Thy Faithfulness. No matter what my mind holds, agrees to, or understands, I will always be standing on the promises of God, because the hymns I have sung throughout my life will never let me go. And for this I give thanks. — Nadia Bolz-Weber, full post: https://thecorners.substack.com/p/singing-hymns-alone

       It is a season of new songs. 
       It is a season of new people, new prayers, new questions. 
        At first, the liturgy of the Episcopal Church captured me with its novelty. The chants and collects, calls and responses were a refreshing departure from the contemporary evangelical worship I’d come to associate with all my evangelical baggage.  I liked confessing and receiving communion each week. I liked reciting the Lord’s Prayer and the Apostle’s Creed together in community. I liked the smells and bells. Each Sunday I’d stuff the sandy-colored bulletin in my purse so I could go home and study the rhythm of this worship, imbibing the poetry of those holy words. 
        We didn’t know many people then. I kept my eyes on the floor as I walked away from the Table on Sundays, afraid of exchanging too many warm smiles, afraid of becoming too familiar to these kind, religious people who, like all kind, religious people will inevitably disappoint and be disappointed. The melodies of the hymns remained largely inscrutable to my untrained ears, except for when the director of music, (raised Pentecostal),  threw in an “Amazing Grace” or “Rock of Ages” and I sang loud and badly just to hear my voice grip those solid words again.
       But we’ve been showing up for nearly six months now, and so it is a different sort of beauty I encounter on Sunday mornings these days—the beauty of familiarity, of sweet routine.
       I know the order of service now. I know it well enough to have favorite parts, to skim ahead when I’m hungry or restless, to get the songs stuck in my head. And we know the people too, not merely as strange faces gathered around the Table but as the Alabama fan, the new mom, the student who loves talking theology, the quilting club, the recovering fundamentalists, the friends. Yesterday, my eyes clouded with tears as the choir sang I Shall See,” somehow pulling every frantic, disparate prayer from the week into a single sweet plea. The music director told me  the song made her think of me. 
      It is a season of new songs.
      It is a season of receiving, of being loved just for showing up. 
I am holding all these gifts gingerly, like fragile blue eggs I’m afraid to break. I am holding them the way I hold that white wafer in my cupped, open hands—grateful, relieved, and still just a little bit frightened of what will happen when I take it and eat. — Rachel Held Evans, full post: https://rachelheldevans.com/blog/new-son

MUSIC in JUDAISM — My Jewish Learning.org

Music has been a part of Jewish life since biblical times, and remains integral to the Jewish religious and cultural experiences. At the moment of Israel’s birth as a nation — the Exodus from Egypt — the Bible tells us that Moses led the people of Israel in a song of divine praise. Music was part of the sacrificial worship in the Temple, and later became part of synagogue prayer services and at-home religious observance. Jewish music tends to blend unique elements with aspects that reflect the cultures in which Jews have lived, composed, played instruments, and sung…
     Jewish religious music includes cantorial music — the music of the professional prayer leader; nusah, the melodies to which traditional prayers are chanted, with different tunes used for different services; modern liturgical music, in which composers set excerpts of Jewish prayer to choral or other music that is not necessarily inherently “Jewish”; cantillation, which is the notes for chanting public readings of the Torah, haftarah(selections from Prophets), and other Jewish sacred texts, such as the Scroll of Ecclesiastes on the festival Sukkot; and nigunim, which are wordless melodies. Different Jewish communities throughout history have produced their own distinctive forms of these different Jewish religious expressions. However, as the global community has grown increasingly connected, so too have the different Jewish communities, resulting in a cross-fertilization of musical styles between Jews of different countries and different denominational affiliations.

JUDEO-CHRISTIAN MUSIC History

Worship with instruments in the Bible starts off in Genesis 4 with Jubal who “the first of all who play the harp and flute.” Moses mentions tamborines and dancing in Exodus as they celebrate the victory at the Red Sea. Then in the days of David and Solomon at the height of temple worship, they had choirs, ram horn (shofar) blowers, cymbal bangers, tamborines and various other percussionists and some stringed instruments (fore-runners to guitars like the lyre, ….) at the temple for celebrations of worship. It was probably very loud, and quite dissonant to our ears. And when people complain about the loud drums, besides the Psalm 150:5 “Praise him with the loud/clashing cymbals” you can check out 1 Chronicles 15 and 16 and notice that King David put Asaph in charge of the worship music and his instrument was… the cymbals? Why? Pragmatic of course: the cymbals are louder and more rhythmic of all the instruments, so it is the most logical for helping to keep the band in time! This orchestration lasted for many years, depending on the state of the temple. See Nehemiah 12 for a description and remember every time you read “trumpet” that you are talking about a shofar, not a modern finely tuned diatonic instrument. Psalm 150 makes it clear that we are free to use all the instruments we can find to worship God with. — musicacademy.com, full article: https://www.musicademy.com/history-worship-music-old-new-testament-to-rock-and-roll/

MUSIC and ISLAM — Hussein Rashid, Hofstra University, article: https://asiasociety.org/arts/music-and-islam-deeper-look

… The debate among Muslims is not about the permissibility of audio art, but about what kind of audio arts are permissible. The Qur’an, the first source of legal authority for Muslims, contains no direct references to music. Legal scholars use the hadith (saying and actions of Prophet Muhammad) as another source of authority, and have found conflicting evidence in it. The consensus that has emerged is that the audio arts fall into three broad categories: legitimate, controversial, and illegitimate. Qira’at, the call to prayer, religious chants and the like are all considered legitimate. Controversial audio arts include almost all other types of music. Illegitimate audio arts are considered to be those that take people away from the commandments of the faith. Music that leads to drinking or licentious behavior is considered illegitimate. Depending on the community of interpretation, one can find devotional music legitimate, controversial, or illegitimate.
    
Sufis, a broad category for a group of Muslims who generally take on a more personal and esoteric approach to the faith, argue that devotional audio arts must be bound by three things to be considered legitimate: time, place, and companions. Al-Ghazali, the famed 11th/12th century Sunni Muslim, argues that a good time is one that allows you to complete religious and societal obligations and no diversion should take time away from performing obligations. The place for the performance of audio art should be an appropriate setting– no concerts in masjids, and no performances in bars. Finally, the companions, the people surrounding the listener, should encourage the best in the listener.
    
The 10th century philosophical group, the Ikhwan as-Safa, argue that the truest audio art is the Voice of God, which the Prophet Moses heard at Sinai. When Moses heard the Voice, he moved beyond the need for earthly music. Based on this moment, the Ikhwan as-Safa believe that human audio arts are necessary echoes to remind us of the true music. The 15th century Persian mystical poet Jami says that in the Qur’an, when God says He is blowing life into the form of man (38:72) it should be understood that human beings are the first musical instrument. The famous Sufi poet Rumi (13th century) also plays with the idea of human beings as musical instruments. He opens his work the Mathnawi, perhaps one of his most famous poems, with the lines, “Listen to the reed as it tells a tale/ a tale of separation,” a statement on the human condition of removal from the Divine. It is also argued that the Prophet David (who authored the Psalms according to Muslims) and the Prophet Solomon both had beautiful voices and sang freely….

Reflections on fathers, patriarchs, parents, and men in our lives who shape and change us. For Father’s Day weekend.

This Father’s Day I want to recognize the kind, patient, sensitive, and caring men who serve as father figures and role models in our children’s lives. They are uncles, teachers, caregivers, cooks, drivers, security guards, and coaches. They are there every day in every way. They gently guide our children through their days, offering advice and wisdom – giving our children a model of what and how they can grow up to be … — Maggie Doyne, BlinkNow

It’s the most profound gift and the most daunting challenge. — Matt Bomer

Open your hands if you want to be held. — Rumi

It is not flesh and blood, but the heart which makes us fathers … — Johann Friedrich Von Schiller

I’d say, Buckle up!… It’s going to be a journey where half the time, you don’t know what you’re doing or what to expect, or how you’re going to bear the pressures, or as Blake put it, learn to endure the beams of love.  I would say, it’s one day at a time … It’s Doctorow saying …[it]  is like driving at night with the headlights on where you can only see a little ways in front of you, but you can make the whole journey that way. — Annie Lamott

Songs about fathers and parenthood:

Questions to consider:

  • If your image of God comes from a parent, what does that experience of love offer as your relationship with God? Stern and disciplinarian, intimate and affectionate, constant and close, faraway and not present, instructive and patient, quick and restless … how do you know God as met through your connection to your primary relationships: parents or caregivers in your earliest years?
  • Does calling God “the Father” help you to connect to Holy Love or is it a barrier? If so, why? What language would help connect you to Godself?
  • For whom have you been a role model or mentor, an influencer and changemaker?
  • Who has been a father figure or role model in your life?
The Longing and the Love (excerpt) — Brian Lundin
We long for the perfect protection of a father,
for strong arms that encircle us,
hold us tight to a broad chest, a beating heart.
Arms that toss us into the air,
screaming with laughter and a little fear,
even though we know those arms will always catch us.From the moment we gasp our first breath of air,
we long for the perfect father.
We long for a father who sacrifices,
who lays down his time to play games,
read our favorite book one more time,
or take a long walk and listen.
Who reaches into his pocket and pulls out a dollar for ice cream.
Who reaches deeper to provide a good home, good food, and good gifts.
We long for a father who always protects,
always cheers, and always sacrifices.Some of us are blessed to find
bits and pieces of these longings met in human form,
Like sun through stained glass—a brilliant picture,
illuminated by our Father who satisfies these longings.We thank God for fathers who protect,
who encourage with strong words, and strong convictions,
fathers willing to sacrifice, striving to love.But some of us are grieving.
Grieving the loss of a good father, or the lack of one.
Some never knew their father’s arms,
and some bear scars, on skin and soul,
dealt from a father’s swinging arms.
At some point, all of us are left longing.
Lacking.No human father can perfectly satisfy.
Look up and know your Father in Heaven gave you these longings,
and only He can … fulfill them …We celebrate our fathers on earth, and our Father in heaven.
We give thanks for the longing, and give thanks for the love.
Father’s Day Prayer — Maren Tirabassi
God, I’m praying for fathers –
fathers, up at night with newborns,
fathers, bent under college debt,
fathers who are good with one age of child
and haven’t a clue with another.
I’m praying for fathers balancing self
and home and work and parenting,
especially when no one seems to notice.
I’m praying for fathers of adolescents,
and for those who are adolescents themselves,
as well as many who prop up their elbows w
hen their hands slip on the gift of accountability.
I’m praying for grandfathers and transfathers.
godfathers and grieving fathers,
foster fathers and adopting fathers,
solo fathers and step-fathers,
fathers-in-law and fathers-in-neighbor,
more grandfathers – tiptoeing around divorce,
and also teachers, pastors, coaches, counselors
who mix a tiny bit of what they know
from fathering into relationships
with dozens of children, and l
earn the rhythm to step back.
I’m praying for those living
with their mistakes as fathers—
small thoughtlessnesses that call for self-forgiveness,
or deep damage needing repentance, transformation.
I’m praying for those who want to be fathers,
and those who have wanted, but it never happened.
I’m praying for those who miss
their fathers because of death or distance,
deep difference or disappearance,
and I’m praying those who miss their children
because of death or distance,
deep difference or disappearance.
Be a parent to them, O God,
on this day and all the days of the year.
I am praying for those who have been
so violated by men in relationship to them,
that the very name “father” is a wound.
Heal them with time and anger,
memory, love and support.
As we approach this civic day
with its tangle of knotted emotions,
draw out for each of us from
your fathoms of tenderness, care, and strength,
for our most intimate needs – named here,
barely whispered to ourselves, or
still hidden in the cave-rooms of our souls.
Amen.

For a New Father (excerpt)— John O’Donohue
As the shimmer of dawn transforms the night
Into a blush of color futured with delight,
The eyes of your … child awaken in you
A brightness that surprises your life …
… You feel the full force of a father’s desire
To protect and shelter.
… May your heart rest in the grace of the gift
And you sense how you have been called
Inside the dream of this new destiny.
May you be gentle and loving, clear and sure.
May you trust in the unseen providence
That has chosen you all to be a family.
May you stand sure on your ground
And know that every grace you need
Will unfold before you
Like all the mornings of your life.

Extraordinariness of Daily Acts: Just Showing Up
 
My father didn’t tell me how to live. He lived and let me watch him do it. — Clarence Budington Kelland
 
Dads are most ordinary men turned by love into heroes, adventurers, story-tellers … and singers of song. — Pam Brown
 
A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society. — Billy Graham
 
I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren’t trying to teach us. We are formed by the little scraps of wisdom. — Umberto Eco
 
When you’re young, you think your dad is Superman. Then you grow up, and you realize he’s just a regular guy who wears a cape. — Dave Attell
 
Sometimes the poorest man leaves his children the richest inheritance. — Ruth Renkel

The biggest lesson for my kids is that they know they are the most important things I have. No matter what is going on in my life, your kids are forever. — Lin Manuel Miranda

I talk and talk and talk, and I haven’t taught people in 50 years what my father taught by example in one week. — Maria Cuomo Cole

I remember a very important lesson that my father gave me when I was twelve or thirteen. He said, ‘You know, today I welded a perfect seam and I signed my name to it.’ And I said, ‘But, Daddy, no one’s going to see it!’ And he said, ‘Yeah, but I know it’s there.’  — Toni Morrison

A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society. — Billy Graham

He adopted a role called being a father so that his child would have something mythical and infinitely important: a protector. — Tom Wolfe

On Loving Our Children

Baby, I paint the sky blue
My greatest creation was you.
— Jay-Z
In my career, there’s many things I’ve won and many things I’ve achieved, but for me, my greatest achievement is my children and my family. — David Beckham

When my father didn’t have my hand, he had my back. — Linda Poindexter

Prayer Maya Angelou

Father, Mother, God,
Thank you for your presence during the hard and mean days.
For then we have you to lean upon.
Thank you for your presence during the bright and sunny days,
for then we can share that which we have with those who have less.
And thank you for your presence during the Holy Days, for then we are able
to celebrate you and our families and our friends.
For those who have no voice, we ask you to speak.
For those who feel unworthy, we ask you to pour your love out in waterfalls of tenderness.
For those who live in pain, we ask you to bathe them in the river of your healing.
For those who are lonely, we ask you to keep them company.
For those who are depressed, we ask you to shower upon them the light of hope.
Dear Creator, You, the borderless sea of substance, we ask you to give to all the world that which we need most—Peace.

All Kinds of Fathers: Honoring the Men in Our Lives

There are many different types of Dads. Father figures come in all shapes and sizes, and being a parent can sometimes lie with a less-traditional role-model. — MensLineAustralia

It is not flesh and blood, but the heart which makes us fathers and sons. — Johann Friedrich Von Schiller

But a role model in the flesh provides more than inspiration; his or her very existence is confirmation of possibilities one may have every reason to doubt, saying, yes, someone like me can do this. — Sonia Sotomayor

You can honor the day by acknowledging someone who made a difference in your life … — James Van Praagh

Role models set goals for you and try to make you as good as they are. Role models are important. — Kasey Zacharias 

My role model didn’t tell me, he showed me. — Unattributed

By being a living role model of what you want to receive from others, you create more of what you want in your life. — Eric Allenbaugh

Be the flame of fate, that torch of truth to guide our young people toward a better future for themselves and for this country. — Michelle Obama 

We tend to become like those we admire. — Thomas Monson

Children need role models rather than critics. — Joseph Joubert

A role model can teach you to love and respect yourself. — Tionne Watkins

To change bad habits we must study the habits of successful role models. — Jack Canfield 

As a leader, it’s a major responsibility on your shoulders to practice the behavior you want others to follow. — Himanshu Bhatia

God / Holy Love as Parent & Creator

There is something gratuitous about creation, an unnecessary abundance of beauty, and through its blossoms and pleasures we can revel in the sheer largesse of the Father. ― Michael Reeves

[About Prodigal Son parable] … he’s a parent who loves both his children more than anyone can measure. And that’s when counting breaks down. When you love so much there is no scale adequate to calculate your devotion. The elder son, he counts … But the … father – doesn’t. Can’t. Love like this, you see, cannot be measured, tracked, or managed. … God’s immeasurable love. Period. — David Lose

Right from the moment of our birth, we are under the care and kindness of our parents, and then later on in our life when we are oppressed by sickness and become old, we are again dependent on the kindness of others. Since at the beginning and end of our lives we are so dependent on other’s kindness, how can it be in the middle that we would neglect kindness towards others? — Dalai Lama

The child asks of the Father whom he knows. Thus, the essence of Christian prayer is not general adoration, but definite, concrete petition. The right way to approach God is to stretch out our hands and ask of One who we know has the heart of a Father. ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer

God attaches no strings to His love. None. His love for us does not depend on our loveliness. It goes one way. As far as our sin may extend, the grace of our Father extends further. ― Tullian Tchividjian

Most of us were taught that God would love us if and when we change. In fact, God loves you so that you can change. What empowers change, what makes you desirous of change is the experience of love. It is that inherent experience of love that becomes the engine of change. ― Richard Rohr

I am always struck when I reread the parable of the merciful Father. … The Father, with patience, love, hope and mercy, had never for a second stopped thinking about [his wayward son], and as soon as he sees him still far off, he runs out to meet him and embraces him with tenderness, the tenderness of God, without a word of reproach. … God is always waiting for us, He never grows tired. Jesus shows us this merciful patience of God so that we can regain confidence and hope — always!— Pope Francis

Committing myself to the task of becoming fully human is saving my life now… to become fully human is something extra, a conscious choice that not everyone makes. Based on my limited wisdom and experience, there is more than one way to do this. If I were a Buddhist, I might do it by taking the bodhisattva vow, and if I were a Jew, I might do it by following Torah. Because I am a Christian, I do it by imitating Christ, although i will be the first to admit that I want to stop about a day short of following him all the way. In Luke’s gospel, there comes a point when he turns around and says to the large crowd of those trailing after him, “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple” (14:26). Make of that what you will, but I think it was his way of telling them to go home. He did not need people to go to Jerusalem to die with him. He needed people to go back where they came from and live the kinds of lives that he had risked his own life to show them: lives of resisting the powers of death, of standing up for the little and the least, of turning cheeks and washing feet, of praying for enemies and loving the unlovable. ― Barbara Brown Taylor

About the Prodigal Father (excerpt) —Nadia Bolz-Weber (full article: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/nadiabolzweber/2016/03/junk-food-djs-and-brothers-a-sermon-on-how-all-that-is-the-fathers-is-ours/)

… So Jesus told them this parable of 2 sons.
      The first son took his inheritance and left town and squandered everything he’d been given. Like a child who if given the freedom to choose for themselves what they eat, they gleefully gorge themselves on Fruit Loops and Snickers for breakfast and Mountain Dew and Funions for lunch and a dinner of only double stuff Oreos and by the next night they are begging for broccoli.   The younger son had been belligerently independent and self-focused – so sure that if he got everything he wanted that he would be happy but instead he was miserable.
      And so returning home with his head hung low he glances up and sees the Father running to him – before the younger son could even get his totally rehearsed speech out of his mouth the father throws his arms around him and covers him in love. What was lost is found, what was dead is alive says the Father. None of which are moral categories.
     These things call for not condemnation, but a party! And so the father hires a DJ and an amazing caterer and there is dancing and song and drink and joy.
     The younger son may have squandered his freedom in self-indulgent excess. But the older son was just as wasteful.
      The older son squandered his freedom by not thinking he had any. He didn’t believe that all that was the Father’s was his. He squandered the gifts of the Father by living a life of mirthless duty. And coming home from the field he hears the party underway and resents such a lavish show of love thinking it a limited resource. He was being a complete ass and yet again, the Father comes to him reminding him of the great love he has for his child.
      The father sacrifices his dignity twice by running into the street to embrace his children – not as a reward for the children being good but because that is simply the Father’s nature. We are children of a God who does things like that. So in response to the incredulous religious people of his day who were trying desperately to uphold their reward and punishment program Jesus told them a parable about a seemingly bad son and a seemingly good son and how not one thing about their behavior had any effect whatsoever on the heart of their father. All the love that the father had was theirs no matter what. Everything the father had was theirs. So the tragic thing about this story isn’t that one was selfish and one was resentful, the tragic thing is that neither of them trusted the love of the Father. And when that love is not trusted as being sufficient – we replace it with a punishment and reward system.
     …. If you have been told that God is some kind of punishing, capricious, angry bastard with a killer surveillance system who is basically always disappointed with you for being a human being then you have been lied to. The church has failed you and I am so sorry.   
      So if you hear nothing else hear this: that angry punishing God is not the God I know. And it is not the God revealed to us in the person of Jesus Christ. This Jesus who ate with sinners and tax collectors and pissed of the religious authorities (because he was so clearly free from their control) and who loved and healed and forgave people indiscriminately – well this Jesus was God’s way of telling us who God is.
       So when I reject my identity as beloved child of God and turn to my own plans of self-satisfaction, or I despair that I haven’t managed to be a good enough person, I again see our divine Parent running toward me uninterested in what I’ve done or not done, who covers me in divine love and I melt into something new like having again been moved from death to life and I reconcile aspects of myself and I reconcile to others around me.
      But I’m human, so inevitably some anxiety or resentment sets me off and I start the whole cycle over again. And that’s ok. Because we have endless opportunities to lift our heads and see how the Divine Parent is running toward us – calling us home. Reminding us of God’s love for us and freeing us to be agents of reconciliation…

God Is for Us — Richard Rohr (full article: https://cac.org/daily-meditations/god-is-for-us-2016-09-30/)

Love is just like prayer; it is not so much an action that we do, but a dialogue that already flows through us. We don’t decide to “be loving”; rather, to love is to allow our deepest and truest nature to show itself. The “Father” doesn’t decide to love the “Son.” Fatherhood is the flow from Father to Son, one hundred percent. The Son does not choose now and then to release some love to the Father, or to the Spirit. Love is the full modus operandi between all three of them! (Remember these classic names are just placeholders. You can replace them with any form of endearment that works for you, but make sure something works!)
     … Love is not something you do; love is Someone you are. It is your True Self … Love is where you came from and love is where you’re going. It’s not something you can attain. … It is the living presence of God within you, often called the Holy Spirit, or what some theologians name uncreated grace.
    You can’t manufacture this by any right conduct. You can’t make God love you one ounce more than God already loves you right now.
     You cannot make God love you any less, either—not an ounce less. You could do the most terrible thing and God wouldn’t love you any less. (You would probably love yourself much less, however.)
     You cannot change the Divine mind about you! The flow is constant and total toward your life. God is for you!
      You can’t diminish God’s love for you. What you can do, however, is learn how to believe it, receive it, trust it, allow it, and celebrate it, accepting Trinity’s whirling invitation to join in the cosmic dance.
      Catherine LaCugna [writes] “The very nature of God, therefore, is to seek out the deepest possible communion and friendship with every last creature on this earth.”
      That’s God’s job description. That’s what it’s all about. The only things that can keep you out of this divine dance are fear, doubt, or self-hatred. What would happen in your life—right now—if you accepted being fully accepted?

  • It would be a very safe universe.
  • You would have nothing to be afraid of.

God is for you.

God is leaping toward you!

God is on your side, honestly more than you are on your own.

Meditations on blindness and sight, perception and awareness: songs, prayers, poems and brief commentary on themes that rise up in John 9

I think we all suffer from acute blindness at times. Life is a constant journey of trying to open your eyes. I’m just beginning my journey, and my eyes aren’t fully open yet. — Olivia Thirlby

Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind … — William Shakespeare

I have looked into your eyes with my eyes. I have put my heart near your heart. — Pope John XXIII
Songs about ‘Blindness’:
Blind Leading the Blind by Mumford & Sons (rock)
Blind Fools by Megan Davies & Curtis Peoples (country)
I Am Free by Newsboys (Christian rock)
I Go Blind by Hootie & The Blowfish (rock)
I Wish I Were Blind by Bruce Springsteen (rock)
Seeing Blind by Niall Horan & Maren Morris (country)
Sky Blue by Peter Gabriel with Blind Boys of Alabama (ballad/gospel)
Blind Boy by Musical Youth (pop)
Loving Blind by Clint Smith (country)
Love Is Blind by David Coverdale/Whitesnake (rock)
Lord You’ve Been Good To Me by 5 Blind Boys (gospel)
He Saw It All by the Booth Brothers (Christian country)
If You Me To by Ginny Owens (Christian)
Live Music with Blind Boys of Alabama (gospel)
Blind Man by Aerosmith (rock)
Blind Love by Tom Waits (country)
You’re Blind by Run/DMC (rock/rap)
Blind by Dababy (rap – includes explicit lyrics/some cursing)

Songs about Sight & Seeing: My Father’s Eyes by Eric Clapton (rock)
Have You Ever Seen the Rain? by Creedance Clearwater Revival (country/rock)
Doctor My Eyes by Jackson Browne (rock)
Look at Me by Sarah Vaughan (jazz/blues)
I Only Have Eyes for You by The Flamingos (rock/soul)
The Light In Your Eyes by LeAnn Rimes (country)
When I Look at the World by U2
I Look to You by Whitney Houston (rock)
The Way You Look Tonight by Frank Sinatra (jazz/big band)
Eyes Open by Taylor Swift (pop)
Close Your Eyes by Meghan Trainor (country)
Fresh Eyes by Andy Grammer (pop)
In Your Eyes by Peter Gabriel (rock ballad)
Don’t Close Your Eyes cover by Tim McGraw
In Another’s Eyes by Trisha Yearwood & Garth Brooks (country)
In My Daughter’s Eyes by Martina McBride
Sue Looks Good to Me by Alicia Keys (pop)
Look It Here by Public Enemy (rap)
Look Me In the Heart by Tina Turner (rock)
Look at Me Now by Kirk Franklin (rock/rap/gospel)
Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You by Frankie Valli (rock)
Close Your Eyes by Peaches & Herb & again Close Your Eyes The Five Keys (soul/rock)
Total Eclipse of the Heart by Bonnie Tyler (rock ballad)
When I Look in Your Eyes by Firehouse (rock)
Close Your Eyes by Michael Buble (pop)
Close My Eyes Forever by Ozzy Osbourne & Lita Ford (rock ballad)
Take a Look at Me Now (Against All Odds) by Phil Collins (pop ballad)
Angel Eyes by the Jeff Healey Band (rock)
My Eyes Have Seen You and I Looked at You by The Doors (rock)
Sight for Sore Eyes by Aerosmith (rock)
Look at Me Now by Charlies Puth (pop)
Ocean Eyes by Billie Eilish
The Way I Am by Ingrid Michaelson (pop ballad)
The Eyes of a Woman by Journey (rock)

PRAYER by Richard Rohr
God of all Light and Truth, just make sure that I am not a blind man or woman.
Keep me humble and honest, and that will be more than enough work for you.

PRAYER by Nadia Bolz-Weber
God of desert prophets and unlikely messiahs, humble us.
Show us that there is more to see than what we look for.
More possibility. More love. More forgiveness …
Restore our sight so that we may see you in each other.

PRAYER by St Augustine
Late have I loved you, O beauty ever ancient, ever new.
Late have I loved you. You have called to me, and have called out,
and have shattered my deafness. You have blazed forth with light and
have put my blindness to flight! You have sent forth fragrance,
and I have drawn in my breath, and I pant after you.
I have tasted you, and I hunger and thirst after you.
You have touched me, and I have burned for your peace.

At the End of the Day: A Mirror of Questions — John O’Donohue
What dreams did I create last night?
Where did my eyes linger today?
Where was I blind?
Where was I hurt without anyone noticing?
What did I learn today?
What did I read?
What new thoughts visited me?
What differences did I notice in those closest to me?
Whom did I neglect?
Where did I neglect myself?
What did I begin today that might endure?
How were my conversations?
What did I do today for the poor and the excluded?
Did I remember the dead today?
When could I have exposed myself to the risk of something different?
Where did I allow myself to receive love?
With whom today did I feel most myself?
What reached me today? How did it imprint?
Who saw me today?
What visitations hd I from the past and from the future?
What did I avoid today?
From the evidence – why was I given this day?

RICHARD ROHR COMMENTARY   (from Center for Action & Contemplation)
Finally, the great theater-piece Gospel is about a man born blind. … We can only touch upon the surface here, but enough to point you beneath the surface, I hope. Let me list in quick succession the major themes so you cannot miss them: 

  • The “man born blind” is the archetype for all of us at the beginning of life’s journey.
  • The moral blame game as to why or who caused human suffering is a waste of time.
  • The man does not even ask to be healed. It is just offered and given.
  • Religious authorities are often more concerned about control and correct theology than actually healing people. They are presented as narrow and unloving people throughout the story.
  • Many people have their spiritual conclusions before the facts in front of them. He is a predefined “sinner” and has no credibility for them.
  • Belief in and love of Jesus come after the fact, subsequent to the healing. Perfect faith or motivation is not always a prerequisite for God’s action. Sometimes God does things for God’s own purposes.
  • Spirituality is about seeing. Sin is about blindness, or as Saint Gregory of Nyssa will say, “Sin is always a refusal to grow.”
  • The one who knows little, learns much (what we call “beginner’s mind”) and those who have all their answers already, learn nothing.

Doing as others told me, I was Blind.
Coming when others called me, I was Lost.
Then I left everyone, myself as well.
Then I found Everyone, Myself as well.
― Rumi

COMMENTARY on the STORY of the BLIND MAN

… Of the two choices, Jesus picked a third, unbinding sin from the body, deformity from purity.  Before sight was restored, God’s presence was invoked in this marginal space, this “inappropriate” body.  God’s presence was invoked within the blind man – within the “imperfect”, within the “other”.  And when his eyes were opened, God’s light came pouring out from this man, casting into stark relief the social and religious ideas that had kept him out for so long. — Eliza (UCC minister see full posting on her blog)

Jesus doesn’t ask the blind guy when he heals him what he’ll be looking at for the rest of his life. — Anne Lamott

It will make a weak man mighty. it will make a mighty man fall. It will fill your heart and hands or leave you with nothing at all. It’s the eyes for the blind and legs for the lame. It is the love for hate and pride for shame. That’s the power of the gospel. — Ben Harper

It was here in the midst of my own community of underside dwellers that I couldn’t help but begin to see the Gospel, the life-changing reality that God is not far off, but here among the brokenness of our lives. — Nadia Bolz-Weber

ON SEEING & BLINDNESS as STATES of SPIRITUAL PERCEPTION

It’s not like ‘I once was blind, and now can see’: it’s more like, ‘I once was blind and now I have really bad vision’. — Nadia Bolz-Weber

Optimism does not mean being blind to the actual reality of a situation. It means maintaining a positive spirit to continue to seek a solution to any given problem. And it means recognizing that any given situation has many different aspects—positive as well as problematic. — Dalai Lama

We are only as blind as we want to be. ― Maya Angelou

Spirituality doesn’t mean a blind belief in a spiritual teaching. Spirituality is a practice that brings relief, communication, and transformation. Everyone needs a spiritual dimension in life. Without a spiritual dimension, it’s very challenging to be with the daily difficulties we all encounter. With a spiritual practice, you’re no longer afraid. Along with your physical body, you have a spiritual body. The practices of breathing, walking, concentration, and understanding can help you greatly in dealing with your emotions, in listening to and embracing your suffering, and in helping you to recognize and embrace the suffering of another person. If we have this capacity, then we can develop a real and lasting spiritual intimacy with ourselves and with others. ― Thich Nhat Hanh

Had the price of looking been blindness, I would have looked. — Ralph Ellison

Blindness is an unfortunate handicap but true vision does not require the eyes. — Helen Keller

Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see. — Mark Twain

Our very eyes, Are sometimes, like our judgments, blind. — William Shakespeare

There are not sacred and profane things, places, and moments. There are only sacred and desecrated things, places, and moments-and it is we alone who desecrate them by our blindness and lack of reverence. It is one sacred universe, and we are all a part of it. — Richard Rohr

Man’s basic vice, the source of all his evils, is the act of unfocusing his mind, the suspension of his consciousness, which is not blindness, but the refusal to see, not ignorance, but the refusal to know. — Ayn Rand

An eye for an eye leaves everybody blind. — Martin Luther King, Jr.

NOBEL SPEECH (excerpt from FULL LECTURE) by Toni Morrison
“Once upon a time there was an old woman. Blind but wise.” Or was it an old man? A guru, perhaps. Or a griot soothing restless children. I have heard this story, or one exactly like it, in the lore of several cultures. “Once upon a time there was an old woman. Blind. Wise.”
      In the version I know the woman is the daughter of slaves, black, American, and lives alone in a small house outside of town. Her reputation for wisdom is without peer and without question. Among her people she is both the law and its transgression. The honor she is paid and the awe in which she is held reach beyond her neighborhood to places far away; to the city where the intelligence of rural prophets is the source of much amusement.
     One day the woman is visited by some young people who seem to be bent on disproving her clairvoyance and showing her up for the fraud they believe she is. Their plan is simple: they enter her house and ask the one question the answer to which rides solely on her difference from them, a difference they regard as a profound disability: her blindness. They stand before her, and one of them says, “Old woman, I hold in my hand a bird. Tell me whether it is living or dead.”
     She does not answer, and the question is repeated. “Is the bird I am holding living or dead?”
Still she doesn’t answer. She is blind and cannot see her visitors, let alone what is in their hands. She does not know their color, gender or homeland. She only knows their motive.
     The old woman’s silence is so long, the young people have trouble holding their laughter.
     Finally she speaks and her voice is soft but stern. “I don’t know”, she says. “I don’t know whether the bird you are holding is dead or alive, but what I do know is that it is in your hands. It is in your hands.”
     Her answer can be taken to mean: if it is dead, you have either found it that way or you have killed it. If it is alive, you can still kill it. Whether it is to stay alive, it is your decision. Whatever the case, it is your responsibility.
     For parading their power and her helplessness, the young visitors are reprimanded, told they are responsible not only for the act of mockery but also for the small bundle of life sacrificed to achieve its aims. The blind woman shifts attention away from assertions of power to the instrument through which that power is exercised…

I look at the worldLangston Hughes

I look at the world
From awakening eyes in a black face—
And this is what I see:
This fenced-off narrow space   
Assigned to me.
 
I look then at the silly walls
Through dark eyes in a dark face—
And this is what I know:
That all these walls oppression builds
Will have to go!
 
I look at my own body   
With eyes no longer blind—
And I see that my own hands can make
The world that’s in my mind.
Then let us hurry, comrades,
The road to find.

Sonnet 19: When I consider how my light is spent — John Milton

When I consider
how my light is spent,
Ere half my days,
in this dark world and wide,
And that one Talent
which is death to hide
Lodged with me useless,
though my Soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker,
and present
My true account,
lest he returning chide;
‘Doth God exact day-labour,
light denied?’
I fondly ask.
But patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies,
‘God doth not need
Either man’s work
or his own gifts;
who best
Bear his mild yoke,
they serve him best.
His state
Is Kingly.
Thousands at his bidding speed
And post o’er Land and
Ocean without rest:
They also serve who only
stand and wait.’

Meditations on freedom: spiritual and social

Freedom is what we do with what is done to us. — Jean-Paul Sartre

The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud. — Coco Chanel

When I discover who I am, I’ll be free. — Ralph Ellison

We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom. We lived in the gaps between the stories. — Margaret Atwood

Freeing yourself was one thing, claiming ownership of that freed self was another. — Toni Morrison

Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness. If, in our heart, we still cling to anything – anger, anxiety, or possessions – we cannot be free. — Thich Nhat Hanh

You can have peace. Or you can have freedom. Don’t ever count on having both at once. — Robert Heinlein

The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day. — David Foster Wallace

Songs about Freedom:


Freedom — Langston Hughes
Freedom will not come
Today, this year           
Nor ever
Through compromise and fear. 
I have as much right
As the other fellow has           
To stand
On my two feet
And own the land. 
I tire so of hearing people say,
Let things take their course.
Tomorrow is another day.
I do not need my freedom when I’m dead.
I cannot live on tomorrow’s bread.           
Freedom           
Is a strong seed           
Planted           
In a great need.           
I live here, too.           
I want my freedom           
Just as you.   

MEDITATIONS on PERSONAL FREEDOM

The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off. ― Joe Klaas

The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you. — David Foster Wallace

People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use. — Soren Kierkegaard

No one loses anyone, because no one owns anyone. That is the true experience of freedom: having the most important thing in the world without owning it. — Paulo Coelho

Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind. — Virginia Woolf

Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility. — Sigmund Freud

He who has overcome his fears will truly be free. — Aristotle

The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You trade in your sense for an act. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask. There can’t be any large-scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on an individual level. It’s got to happen inside first. — Jim Morrison

Reality doesn’t impress me. I only believe in intoxication, in ecstasy, and when ordinary life shackles me, I escape, one way or another. No more walls. — Anais Nin

True freedom is impossible without a mind made free by discipline. — Mortimer Adler

But the Hebrew word, the word timshel—‘Thou mayest’— that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on a man. For if ‘Thou mayest’—it is also true that ‘Thou mayest not.’ — John Steinbeck

Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes. — Mahatma Gandhi

Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does. It is up to you to give [life] a meaning. — Jean-Paul Sartre

REVOLUTIONARIES

If you want to rebel, rebel from inside the system.That’s much more powerful than rebelling outside the system. — Marie Lu

I tell my students, ‘When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else. This is not just a grab-bag candy game. — Toni Morrison

Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves. — Abraham Lincoln

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free. —Ronald Reagan

When a man is denied the right to live the life he believes in, he has no choice but to become an outlaw. — Nelson Mandela

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. – Benjamin Franklin

Better to die fighting for freedom then be a prisoner all the days of your life. — Bob Marley

A concept is a brick. It can be used to build a courthouse of reason. Or it can be thrown through the window. — Gilles Delueze

We must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it. — William Faulkner

If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all. — Noam Chomsky

I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do. — Robert Heinlein

Being Good Doesn’t Make You Free. The Truth Makes You Free.  Nadia Bolz-Weber (full text)

… “You know that part at the beginning where we all say together that we’ve fractured relationships and done things we shouldn’t and stuff?” Uh…I answered…the confession? “Yeah! they said. That’s so amazing.”

There’s a trend in starting… to actually eliminate the confession and absolution in the liturgy because, well, it just makes people feel bad. And let’s be honest, it’s just a lot more appealing to go to a church that doesn’t make you feel bad.

And I guess there is some logic to that. I mean, if the point of religion is to teach us good from evil and how to choose the good, then who wants to start out each Sunday saying that you didn’t manage to pull that off. Again.

Of course no one can really be that good, which I guess is why there is also a long and rich Christian tradition which in Latin is called “totally faking it.” Also known as pretending to be good and nice and happy and successfully Christian.

… Jesus contrasts not good and evil, but truth and evil. We either do what is true or do what is evil.

I know that I myself will go to extraordinary lengths to fight the truth, especially truth about my shortcomings… One of the most common truths we avoid is about our motivations…

I was substituting being good for the Truth…

But truth comes to us and it changes us. It comes in the word of a sister, in the language of scripture spoken in a community, in the prayers of the people…

The light of truth is simply the only thing that scatters the darkness in ourselves and in the world because God doesn’t deal in deceit and denial and half-truths. Yes, encounters with Truth are hard and require you to step into something that feels like it might just crush you. But the instant is crushes you it also puts you back together into something real. Only the Gospel can do that.

The good news is not that you can possess the truth, but that the truth can possess you, making you real and making you free … perhaps for the first time. And as frightening as it might feel, as much as it might feel like it’s going to crush you, the light of the truth is something you can live in because the love of God has freed you and indeed every human being from the need to live in any lies. Step into the light. You’ll be fine. You’ll be real. And you’ll be free.

CAGED BIRDS
 
There is freedom
waiting for you,
On the breezes of the sky,
And you ask “What if I fall?”
Oh but my darling,
What if you fly?
― Erin Hanson 

I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will. — Charlotte Bronte

You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down. — Toni Morrison

Some birds are not meant to be caged, that’s all. Their feathers are too bright, their songs too sweet and wild. So you let them go, or when you open the cage to feed them they somehow fly out past you. And the part of you that knows it was wrong to imprison them in the first place rejoices, but still, the place where you live is that much more drab and empty for their departure. — Stephen King


Caged Bird—  Maya Angelou
A free bird leaps
on the back of the wind   
and floats downstream   
till the current ends
and dips his wing
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky. 
But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and   
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing. 
The caged bird sings   
with a fearful trill   
of things unknown   
but longed for still   
and his tune is heard   
on the distant hill   
for the caged bird   
sings of freedom. 
The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn bright lawn
and he names the sky his own 
But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams   
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream   
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied   
so he opens his throat to sing. 
The caged bird sings   
with a fearful trill   
of things unknown   
but longed for still   
and his tune is heard   
on the distant hill   
for the caged bird   
sings of freedom.

Of Old Sat Freedom on the Heights Alfred, Lord Tennyson
 Of old sat Freedom on the heights,
The thunders breaking at her feet:
Above her shook the starry lights:
She heard the torrents meet. 
There in her place she did rejoice,
Self-gather’d in her prophet-mind,
But fragments of her mighty voice
Came rolling on the wind. 
Then stept she down thro’ town and field
To mingle with the human race,
And part by part to men reveal’d
The fulness of her face— 
Grave mother of majestic works,
From her isle-altar gazing down,
Who, God-like, grasps the triple forks,
And, King-like, wears the crown: 
Her open eyes desire the truth.
The wisdom of a thousand years
Is in them. May perpetual youth
Keep dry their light from tears; 
That her fair form may stand and shine,
Make bright our days and light our dreams,
Turning to scorn with lips divine
The falsehood of extremes!

I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be an emperor. That’s not my business. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone if possible; Jew, Gentile, black man, white. We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness, not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone, and the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way. Greed has poisoned men’s souls, has barricaded the world with hate, has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical; our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery, we need humanity. More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost. The airplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men; cries out for universal brotherhood; for the unity of us all. Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world, millions of despairing men, women, and little children, victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people. To those who can hear me, I say, do not despair. The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed, the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish. Soldiers! Don’t give yourselves to brutes, men who despise you, enslave you; who regiment your lives, tell you what to do, what to think and what to feel! Who drill you, diet you, treat you like cattle, use you as cannon fodder. Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men – machine men with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines, you are not cattle, you are men! You have the love of humanity in your hearts! You don’t hate! Only the unloved hate; the unloved and the unnatural. Soldiers! Don’t fight for slavery! Fight for liberty! In the seventeenth chapter of St. Luke, it is written that the kingdom of God is within man, not one man nor a group of men, but in all men! In you! You, the people, have the power, the power to create machines, the power to create happiness! You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure. Then in the name of democracy, let us use that power. Let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give youth a future and old age a security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power. But they lie! They do not fulfill that promise. They never will! Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people. Now let us fight to fulfill that promise. Let us fight to free the world! To do away with national barriers! To do away with greed, with hate and intolerance! Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness. Soldiers, in the name of democracy, let us all unite! — Charlie Chaplin

Meditations on lighting lamps: faith as seen and unseen, expected and surprising. Themes from Hebrews & Luke.

You are the community now. Be a lamp for yourselves. Be your own refuge. Seek for no other. All things must pass. Strive on diligently. Don’t give up. ― attributed to Buddha

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. — Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Sufi tell of disciples who, when the death of their master was clearly imminent, became totally bereft. “If you leave us, Master,” they pleaded, “how will we know what to do?” And the master replied, “I am nothing but a finger pointing at the moon. Perhaps when I am gone you will see the moon.” — As retold by Joan Chittister

Blessing of Light
—Jan Richardson

Let us bless the light
and the One who gives
the light to us.

Let us open ourselves
to the illumination
it offers.

Let us blaze
with its
generous fire.

Gospel Song: This Little Light of Mine (refrain)This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine
This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine
This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine
Let it shine, Let it shine, Let it shine.

Questions posed by author Jan Richardson:

  • What do I hide, and why?
  • What parts of my created self have I sent underground?
  • Is there anything I’ve left too long in the dark?
  • Do I harbor any passivity that I need to … turn into persistence?

Lighting Lamps

Whatever you are physically…male or female, strong or weak, ill or healthy–all those things matter less than what your heart contains. If you have the soul of a warrior, you are a warrior. All those other things, they are the glass that contains the lamp, but you are the light inside. ― Cassandra Clare

The lamp burns bright when wick and oil are clean. — Ovid

I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness because it shows me the stars. — Og Mandino

Make up a story… For our sake and yours forget your name in the street; tell us what the world has been to you in the dark places and in the light. Don’t tell us what to believe, what to fear. Show us belief’s wide skirt and the stitch that unravels fear’s caul. ― Toni Morrison, The Nobel Lecture In Literature, 1993 

America is known as a country that welcomes people to its shores. All kinds of people. The image of the Statue of Liberty with Emma Lazarus’ famous poem. She lifts her lamp and welcomes people to the golden shore, where they will not experience prejudice because of the color of their skin, the religious faith that they follow. — Ruth Bader Ginsburg

[T]he ground directly beneath the lantern is always the darkest. ― Yom Sang-seop

Being the light of the world is about being a broken, exploding, scarred star and shining a light of hope and inspiration to everyone around you. ― Ricky Maye

Love cannot endure indifference. It needs to be wanted. Like a lamp, it needs to be fed out of the oil of another’s heart, or its flame burns low. — Henry Ward Beecher


Gifts & How to Use Them

The old and honorable idea of ‘vocation’ is simply that we each are called, by God, or by our gifts, or by our preference, to a kind of good work for which we are particularly fitted. — Wendell Berry

The atmosphere, the earth, the water and the water cycle – those things are good gifts. The ecosystems, the ecosphere, those are good gifts. We have to regard them as gifts because we couldn’t make them. We have to regard them as good gifts because we couldn’t live without them. — Wendell Berry

Treasure is stored in the ruined places. Do not break the hearts of the poor and heartbroken people. — Rumi

When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else. This is not just a grab-bag candy game. — Toni Morrison

On Faith

Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth. ― Rumi

As Brené Brown puts it, “I went to church thinking it would be like an epidural, that it would take the pain away . . . But church isn’t like an epidural; it’s like a midwife . . . I thought faith would say, ‘I’ll take away the pain and discomfort, but what it ended up saying was, ‘I’ll sit with you in it.'”― Rachel Held Evans

Because you are alive, everything is possible. ― Thich Nhat Hanh

Believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it. — Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God. — Corrie ten Boom

All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen. — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Some things have to be believed to be seen. — Madeleine L’Engle

The opposite of faith is not doubt, it’s indifference. — Elie Wiesel

Faith is a knowledge within the heart, beyond the reach of proof. — Kahlil Gibran

Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase. — Martin Luther King, Jr.

Perhaps faith is so hard to define that it’s better to use examples, to share stories, than to write a lot of theoretical things about it (not that that has deterred many theologians). It’s the experience of real people in a real relationship with God that can help us to grasp the meaning of faith, more than a precise or scholarly theological definition. — Kathryn Matthews

The problem of the nature of faith plagues us all our lives. … How do we explain to ourselves the journey of getting from there to here, from unquestioning adherence to institutional answers, to the point of asking faithful questions? It took years before I realized that maybe it is belief itself, if it is real, that carries us there. Maybe if we really believe about God what we say we believe, there comes a time when we have to go beyond the parochialisms of law. Maybe, if we are to be really spiritual people, we can’t afford the mind-binding of denominationalism. In order to find the God of life in all life, maybe we have to be willing to open ourselves to the part of it that lies outside the circles of our tiny little worlds. — Joan Chittister

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